Shedden keeps championship alive with race two win

Gordon Shedden did exactly what he needed to do in race two at Silverstone, leading home team-mate Matt Neal to set up a gripping finale between the pair, while Jason Plato is now out of contention for a third BTCC title.

The two Honda Civics started from the front row of the grid with Neal again on pole, but the championship leader did not make a good start after running wide at the first corner he found himself in third place by the time they reached Becketts.

His team-mate Shedden however made the best start to out-drag Tom Onslow-Cole for the lead of the race, while James Nash nibbled at the rear of Neal’s Civic in the opening lap after his initially good start saw him squeezed out into fourth place.

Neal was not settling for third place with his main rival out front, and quickly set about chasing the Arena Ford of Onslow-Cole for second.

He then forced a mistake from the Ford driver who got sideways heading through the Brooklands left-hander and Neal was quick to take advantage and move up to second place early in the race.

The race was then an intriguing pressure-cooker as Neal closed rapidly on Shedden and started putting his team-mate under huge pressure for the first half of the 22-lap race, but Shedden held on to his position well.

A trend of the race was the sight of Arena Fords losing control at Brooklands, with Andy Neate having a big moment on lap one that scatterred the field and left Frank Wrathall with a loose door, followed by Onlsow-Cole’s mistake and then later another moment for Neate in the race at the same bend.

Neate was also a significant part of the safety car interruption past the halfway point, when he spun WSR’s Nick Foster into the barriers going through Woodcote, where the BMW was then clipped by James Thompson’s Motorbase Ford.

The track was littered with debris, which almost lead to the sight of a sweeping Marshall having to leap out of the way of Rob Collard’s BMW which came flying through the corner to catch the pack after an unfortunate puncture while he was well inside the top 10.

On the restart, it was Shedden and Neal that again ran nose-to-tail for the remaining laps, although Neal eased the pressure on his team-mate in the closing stages to secure the team’s second one-two finish of the day.

Onslow-Cole went on to take his first podium of 2011 with a solid third, while Dave Newsham again displayed a fine drive and avoided the mayhem around him to finish a career-best fourth in his Special Tuning Racing SEAT Leon.

Andrew Jordan brought the Vauxhall Vectra home in fifth place in its penultimate race, while Newsham’s team-mate Tom Boardman was also a star in the race, battling through the order on his way to sixth place having started from 23rd on the grid.

Nash’s race fell to pieces after he was a victim of a number of skirmishes during the often manic race that dropped him out of contention, while Mat Jackson also sufferred another puncture in the early stages of the race and Paul O’Neill again did not finish after sustaining suspension damage in the various battles.

With his championship seeming almost over, Jason Plato charged through the pack after a bad start from 25th place to make his way up through the field to 12th place by the halfwya point. He then passed Liam Griffin round the outside at Brooklands followed by his team-mate Alex MacDowall and went on to finish a strong seventh after passing Tom Chilton.

MacDowall finished ninth, while Daniel Welch scored points for the new Proton Gen-2 in 10th.

This means that Plato is now mathematically out of contention to retain his title however, as he now lies 30 points behind Neal with just 17 left to play with.

The win now moves Shedden closer to Neal, who will take a six point championship lead into what is set to be a tense final race of the season to see who will be crowned BTCC champion of 2011.

Race two results:

1.  Gordon Shedden           Honda           26m44.480s
2.  Matt Neal                Honda             + 0.595s
3.  Tom Onslow-Cole          Ford              + 1.242s
4.  Dave Newsham             SEAT              + 2.346s
5.  Andrew Jordan            Vauxhall          + 3.029s
6   Tom Boardman             SEAT              + 3.495s
7   Jason Plato              Chevrolet         + 3.963s
8.  Tom Chilton              Ford              + 7.710s
9.  Alex MacDowall           Chevrolet         + 7.727s
10.  Daniel Welch             Proton            + 8.464s
11.  Andy Neate               Ford             + 12.346s
12   Rob Austin               Audi             + 12.794s
13.  Ollie Jackson            Vauxhall         + 15.496s
14.  Liam Griffin             Ford             + 16.409s
15.  James Nash               Vauxhall         + 17.571s
16.  Jeff Smith               Vauxhall         + 17.752s
17.  Lea Wood                 Honda            + 24.351s
18.  Chris Swanwick           Audi             + 24.477s
19   Tony Gilham              BMW              + 27.532s
20.  John George              Chevrolet        + 27.913s
21.  Tony Hughes              Toyota           + 28.756s
22.  Chris James              Chevrolet        + 45.922s
23.  Rob Collard              BMW                + 1 lap
24   Martin Byford            Volkswagen         + 1 lap
25.  Frank Wrathall           Toyota            + 2 laps
26.  Mat Jackson              Ford              + 3 laps
DNF     James Thompson           Ford               20 laps
DNF     Nick Foster              BMW                13 laps
DNF     Paul O’Neill             Chevrolet           3 laps

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